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Ovarian cancer symptoms

Ovarian cancer has four main symptoms:

  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Persistent bloating
  • Difficulty eating/feeling full more quickly
  • Needing to wee more frequently

These can also be symptoms of other, less serious, conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, ovarian cysts and polycystic ovary syndrome so if you’re experiencing them it doesn’t necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer.  To find out more download our booklet: Ovarian Cancer: what you need to know.

Ovarian cancer symptoms might also include: back pain, changes in bowel habits (going more often or a lot less), and extreme tiredness for no obvious reason.

It is worth noting that unlike cervical, bowel and breast cancers, there is still no reliable, effective screening method for ovarian cancer. Ovarian Cancer Action is hoping to change this through funding research into the development of the world's first ovarian cancer screening tool. Find out more about this research

If your symptoms are:

  • Persistent
  • Severe
  • Frequent
  • Out of the ordinary

You should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. Keep a record of what symptoms you are experiencing to have your notes to hand when you speak to your doctor. This will help your GP make a speedier diagnosis. You can download our paper symptoms diary or search ‘Ovarian Cancer Action’ in your phone’s app store for a digital version.

Going to the GP with symptoms during the COVID-19 period 

If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms described here, don't let the COVID-19 pandemic put you off contacting your GP. It’s still important to get them checked out by your doctor. GPs and hospitals are still open for business and have put measures in place to make sure they can see you as quickly and safely as possible. In most instances, you will be assessed on the phone or via video, and offered a follow up appointment if necessary. 

Please don’t sit on anything if you’re worried. Whatever is causing your symptoms, it’s best to get it seen to and diagnosed early. 

The British Gynaecological Society has written some helpful and reassuring guidance for women who are experiencing symptoms either for the first time or following an ovarian cancer diagnosis. You can read their guidance here.  

The earlier ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcomes, yet 90% of women do not know the four main symptoms. Click here to find out how you can help us raise awareness.